Bogles… Bogies… the Boogey Man

Ebenezer Grumpypants

In the folklore of the British Isles, the boggart (for we shall be calling it this throughout the article) is either a house spirit or a malevolent spirit inhabiting a marsh, or bog.  The household kind has been known to make things disappear and to affect basic household processes   Those boggarts that inhabit topographic features are slightly more vicious and are known to even cause the abduction of children – and worse.

Boggarts that live in homes can be dealt with by piling salt outside of your bedroom – this keeps them from coming into the bedroom, touching you whil eyou sleep or even taking your bedclothes off so that you catch cold in the night.  Horseshoes are also known to stop those indoor boggarts that pick a family’s home to live in. Hang the horseshoe over your door to keep the meddlesome boggart out.  Those outdoor boggarts that choose to live in caves, holes in the ground and under bridges might also be confused with trolls from some of the children’s stories of yore.

According to legend, one of the worst things that you can do is give a boggart a name.  At that point they become irrational (a turn of phrase that I took great delight in writing) and they cause even more havoc.  This means, that at some point, a family decided to name the boggart that infested their home and their luck got even worse.  Lancashire had a number of famous boggarts.  this is where we get the best look at their description.  It seems that in some cases the boggart is a changeling.  They can be man shaped, at least in general.  They are long limbed, they are as tall as a man, but they can also assume the shape of beasts, and worse.  There are talks of some around Lancashire that are the shape of mystical horses while still other are beast like humans.


In Harry Potter, we are introduced to the boggart in book three – The Prisoner of Azkaban.  Professor Lupin brings a boggart in for the students to practice on.  This boggart is purely shape shifter and takes on the form of the observers worst nightmare.  Some how this version of the boogeyman is almost worse then the kind that might sneak in while you are sleeping and take your bedclothes.  The boggarts of Harry Potter are easiest to disarm with a simple spell and the thought of something exceedingly amusing rather then terrifying.